Wednesday, July 7, 2010

When I Decided to Become a Published Author

Recently agent Rachelle Gardner wrote a blog post that asked When Did You Realize You Were a Writer?  Part of my response (scroll way, way down) had to do with Charles de Lint telling me I was a writer but what usually comes to mind in this situation, for me, is somthing else.  The story of when I decided I was actually going to work to become a published author isn't quite as nice and uplifting but, as with most things in life, I think it makes for a better story.

Back in my days of being an Elementary School Librarian the head of the system-wide Media Services division would hold an annual, day-long conference at the start of each school year.  She would bring in a variety of people to talk to us about technology, books, and whatever else she thought might be on our mutual horizons.

One year she brought in a local author.  This woman had been a school library volunteer when her children had been in elementary school.  While shelving books, she came across a number of picture books that she admired.  An paint artist herself, she began casting about for an idea for a picture book that she could both write and illustrate.

The moment she described her idea I was blown away.  It was one of those simple, staring-me-right-in-the-face ideas that its stark obviousness was the only reason it had remained hidded from me in all the years I'd been casting about for a good picture book idea.  Not only had this author gotten the idea, but her approach to the idea was even better.  (And, yes I'm going to be discrete and, no, I'm not going to name the author, the book title nor the concept behind the book)

Then, with great pride, she read us her book, using her original paintings as the illustrations so we could better see them.

The book was awful.  Horrible.  A steaming pile of... well, you get the idea.

Page after page, the book only got worse.  Her paintings were amateurish.  They lacked depth and soul.  Her writing was in verse -- bad verse.  This wonderful, brilliant idea had been crushed, with all of the life sapped out of it, at the hands of an inept artist and writer.

And yet, her book had been published, published by one of The Biggest Names in Publishing no less.

After the reading I sat there, looking at all of the people clammoring around this person.

"H3ll," I said to myself, "if she can get published with this junk... I can do better than that!"

And that's when I decided to get serious about my writing.

What about you?  What happened in your life to make you decide to take your writing seriously?

-- Tom


  1. Tom, you should meet Anita. She did a Friday Feature (all the FFs are in my blogroll) and talked about getting such inspiration from reading bad books. Woo-hoo for knowing that we can write and do better.

  2. Rachelle Gardner posted something on this a while back as it turns out (it's referenced in her posting from today:

    I'll take inspiration wherever I can get it!